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England set for pre-European Championships warm up game at St James Park?

3 days ago
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Are England on their way back to St James Park.

The last one which Newcastle United hosted, being a 2-0 win over Azerbaijan in a World Cup qualifier on 30 March 2005.

Since then of course, the vast majority of England home games have been at Wembley since it was reopened, although in recent times that has changed to an extent.

Back in early September, a newspaper exclusive (see below) reported that St James Park was favourite to host a warm up game before England start their European Championships finals campaign.

The report said that Wembley will be unavailable to host warm up matches as the stadium is going to be taken over by UEFA from mid-May 2020 as it prepares for the tournament.

The upshot being that the FA have chosen St James Park as their preferred place to host one of the warm up games, before England play Croatia in their first group game on 14 June 2020.

Now on Tuesday the FA have released a statement detailing two pre-Euros warm up games.

England will face Austria away on Tuesday 2 June and then play Romania on Sunday 7 June, the latter surely the very final warm up game.

The FA statement says the Romania game will be played ‘at a venue in England that is still to be confirmed’, fingers crossed it does prove to be St James Park, as long overdue that the national team plays up here again after a 15 year gap.

Official FA announcement:

‘England will face Austria and Romania in June as part of their preparations for UEFA EURO 2020.

The Three Lions will travel to Vienna to face Austria on Tuesday 2 June 2020 (7.45pm kick-off UK time) at the Ernst Happel Stadion as part of their pre-tournament training camp.

Gareth Southgate’s squad will then host the Romanians on Sunday 7 June 2020 (kick-off TBC) at a venue in England that is still to be confirmed.’

The Mag – 9 September 2019:

St James Park is set to stage an England game for the first time in 15 years according to an exclusive on Monday morning.

The 2020 European Championships will see stadiums around Europe hosting the games and Wembley will be unavailable to the national set-up.

That is due to the fact that UEFA will be taking over control of Wembley from mid-May as it prepares to host three group games in the 2020 Euros, as well as the two semi-finals and final.

The Northern Echo report that England are believed to be planning two pre-tournament games including one in the north, with St James Park being the FA’s preferred choice.

After beating Bulgaria 4-0 at Wembley on Saturday, a win at St Mary’s (Southampton) on Tuesday against Kosovo will see England well on their way to qualifying for next summer’s tournament.

With the top two in the group going through, a victory tomorrow would give England a maximum 12 points from four games, with four to play.

It was a disgraceful decision to move every England home game back to Wembley once it was rebuilt after the massive success of hosting games at stadiums around the country while it was closed.

Having matches at St James Park and other grounds, helped bring the national team closer to many more people once again, rather than it being south east dominated.

However, more recently this has been relaxed to an extent and as well as tomorrow night seeing Southampton hosting the Kosovo match, Leeds was the venue for a match against Costa Rica in 2018 and Sunderland when England played Australia in 2016.

When Wembley was closed, St James Park hosted three England games over the course of four years.

The 5 September 2001 saw England beat Albania 2-0 in a World Cup qualifier on Tyneside.

Then a 3-0 friendly win over Ukraine on 18 August 2004.

The last one being a 2-0 win over Azerbaijan in a World Cup qualifier on 30 March 2005.

Hopefully 2020 will see a return to St James Park after a 15 year gap.

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